Pre-War Policy towards Poland

Poland and Germany had mixed relations in the inter-war period. The Treaty of Versailles ceded German land to Poland. Poland had an interest in lands that bordered Germany. Both nations were wary of the Communist threat of the Soviet Union. This mixture of factors led to Poland and Germany concluding Non Aggression agreements. Poland was consulted on some areas of Nazi expansion. Then, in 1939, Poland was the object of the secret elements of the Nazi-Soviet Pact.

German – Polish relations 1933 – 1939.

The Terms of the Treaty of Versailles ceded parts of Germany to Poland. This was not something that the Germans liked and given Hitler’s desire to tear up the Treaty and have Grossdeutschland you would expect that German-Polish relations would deteriorate soon after the Nazi’s gained power. However, quite the opposite happened at first. In 1934 the two nations agreed a ten year non-aggression pact. There then followed attempts to form an anti-communist pact, which Poland declined to agree to as this would antagonise the Soviet Union.

Polish leader, Pilsudski, meeting Goebbels 5 months after the signing of the Polish-German Non Aggression Agreement

Relations between Germany and Poland continued to be relatively good throughout most of this period. Why? Germany had two aims. First, to weaken the friendship between the Poles and France. Second, to strengthen opposition to communism and the Soviet Union. The reasons were purely tactical, Hitler had territorial ambitions in Poland, both in the form of forming Grossdeutschland and in acquiring Lebensraum but there were other, easier, objectives that could and would be targeted first.

Following the Munich Agreement it became increasingly clear that the next territorial claims by Hitler could only be for areas of Poland that had formerly been within Germany. As a result they formalised their agreements of mutual assistance with Britain and France.

Following the conquest of Czechoslovakia Hitler did indeed begin to make demands of the Polish government. In March 1939 he demanded that the ‘Polish Corridor’ be returned to Germany and that the port of Danzig return to German control. The Polish Government rejected these demands and began preparations for an invasion.

The expected invasion of Poland occured on September 1st, 1939. The war had begun.

International Relations in the Interwar years
Impact of the Great DepressionManchurian CrisisAbyssinia Crisis
League of Nations response to Abyssinia and ManchuriaHitler's Aims: Lebensraum and GrossdeutschlandReoccupation of the Rhineland: International Response
AnschlussChamberlain and AppeasementSudetenland plebisite
Munich AgreementPre-War policy towards PolandNazi Soviet Pact
Pact of Steel

 

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